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Omaha metro bars prep for return of Drinksgiving

Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 10:52 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - It’s been called Blackout Wednesday and Drinksgiving. Whatever you call it, the night before Thanksgiving is considered the biggest bar night of the year.

While the world is still in the midst of a pandemic, many in the Omaha metro seem ready to wash away their memories of the 2020 holidays. Local bars and restaurants are battening down the hatches for what is shaping up to be a night of pre-COVID consumption levels.

“I am planning on being packed wall to wall,” said The Good Life manager Andy Faucher. “We’ve been getting phone calls left and right making sure we’re open.”

“We are staffed up for it for the most part, but it’s the day before Thanksgiving,” said Amber Ford, bar manager for Addy’s in Elkhorn. “All the college kids are in town, families are wanting to go out before they have to have their big family dinners and what not. We’re hoping to have a pretty big crowd.”

But staffing shortages are a sign of the times. Customers may be coming back but short staffing is making it hard for many restaurants and bars to keep up.

“It’s been hard to hire people and keep people,” said Brittany Tobaben, assistant general manager at West End in Elkhorn. “We’re lucky now because our staff is willing to put in long hours to make up for the short staff, but not everyone is willing to do that. So when you hire someone and they realize the amount of hours they have to put in, they’re not always wanting to stick around for that.”

There were few signs of masks among restaurant employees or customers at the locations visited for this story, another concern possibly keeping workers away. But those risks clearly aren’t stopping customers who want to get back to their neighborhood bars where they’re expecting close to business as usual on Thanksgiving eve.

“We’re trending up,” said Brad Allgood, Bartender at Clancy’s. “We’re definitely not back to where we were pre-COVID, but we have a pretty loyal customer base so we’re pretty lucky in that respect.”

While they may not be at pre-pandemic staffing levels, many of the bars we visited said they are glad to have their doors open, advising customers to make reservations when possible and, please, be patient with your likely overworked server.

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